The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

August 11, 2013

SPORTVIEW: If Pirates need a closer, Cleveland has one available

By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor

OPINION — HOW MANY TIMES have we heard people say that a Major League Baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint? However, even in a marathon there are times when a sprint is necessary for the overall victory.

Such was the case for the Cleveland Indians last weekend against the Detroit Tigers. The Tribe trailed the division leaders by 3 games coming into the series and with Cleveland having homefield advantage, the much beleaguered Indians fans were fired up.

When Detroit left town, the Tigers held a 7-game lead and pretty much had locked up the division. That sent Cleveland fans once again crying, “Wait until next year.”

While the Tigers swept the series, it was one moment — a sprint if you will — that set the tone.

In the opening game of the series, Cleveland held a 2-0 lead after 8 innings. In came Cleveland closer Chris Perez. He was shellacked for four runs and Detroit won the game and gained the momentum the Tigers needed to sweep the series.

Cleveland never recovered. That one brief time gave Detroit confidence that no matter what happens, they can always beat Cleveland.

I fully realize that every closer loses once in awhile. But at a time like that when a real winner steps up, Perez failed miserably and let down the entire team and city. Of course it’s the same guy that badmouthed Indians fans in the past about not supporting the team.

And it’s the same guy who allegedly had marijuana sent to his house in his dog’s name. The guy is a loser in more ways than one.

Fans would have appreciated it greatly if  manager Terry Francona had walked to the mound after that 4-run gift, taken the ball off Perez and told him to pack his bags because he’ll never play in Cleveland again.

The only thing now for Cleveland fans is looking forward to the Browns making a strong showing this NFL season. And if their opening preseason game was any indication, that could very well happen.

ä Speaking of strong showings, how about those Pittsburgh Pirates? They are truly becoming America’s team. How can everyone not root for them, unless you’re a fan of another National League team of course?

It is almost unbelievable that a club can put together a run of 20 straight losing seasons, only to turn it around completely and lead the Major Leagues in wins the next year. That’s normally the only kind of thing that happens in movies.

If the Pirates can keep up the pace and roll into the playoffs, it will be one of most fantastic sports stories of all time. And even better, not one Bucco has been accused of using steroids.

Hopefully the Pirates can stay on top as they drive for the playoffs. Even with All-Star closer Jason Grilli out with an injury, they continue to win.

But hey, if the Pirates need a closer, I know where one is available. And he has a pretty hip dog too!